5th Annual IDMH Conference




 can be accessed at the following site:

» Healing the Scars of War Materials & Resources

Most soldiers returning to civilian life will experience only brief periods of difficulty.  Others, however, will demonstrate high rates of emotional distress both immediately and even long after their wartime experiences.  Although many returning veterans will be treated in VA hospitals, others seek treatment from mental health practitioners outside of the VA system, sometimes months or years after homecoming.  It is clear that all mental health professionals need to provide up- to- date therapeutic interventions to work productively with these veterans.

This Conference will provide mental health providers with the latest evidence-informed best practices for assisting returning service personnel experiencing stress reactions by highlighting a number of long-term treatments. Presenters and workshop leaders are among the most well-published and eminent researchers and practitioners in the field of trauma studies and have expertise in treating returning veterans. The morning keynote speakers will highlight several approaches to assessment and treatment of veterans and their families including relevant aspects of military culture and strategies for dealing with the special needs of uniformed service personnel. The afternoon workshops will provide mental health practitioners with more in-depth guidance and training.

Schedule Overview

8:30-9:00 Breakfast and On-site Registration, Lecture Center Lobby

Welcome: James Halpern, Ph.D., IDMH Director

Introductory remarks:
Michael F. Hogan, Ph.D., Commissioner of the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH)

9:15-9:20 Introductions: Phyllis R. Freeman, Ph.D. IDMH Board Chair
9:20-10:20 Keynote: David Riggs, Ph.D., Stress Through the Deployment Cycle: Impact on Military Personnel and Their Families
10:20-10:40 Coffee break, Lecture Center lobby
10:45-11:45 Keynote: Patricia Resick, Ph.D., Recognizing PTSD in Returning Combat Veterans
11:45-12:15 Military Culture 101:  Fred Bush, LMSW & Kai Chitaphong, LMSW
12:15-1:45 Lunch & Focus Group


Working Lunch: Navigating Veterans' Service: Providing the Compass
Colonel (Retired) James D. McDonough, Dir. of NYS Division of Veterans' Affairs

Concurrent Professional Workshops:

Rachel Yehuda, Ph.D., Treating Returning War Veterans

David Riggs, Ph.D., Difficulties in Family Reintegration Following Military Deployments

Patricia Resick, Ph.D., An Overview of Cognitive Processing Therapy for Treating PTSD

Edward Tick, Ph.D. & Larry Winters, LMHC, Healing the War-wounded Soul

Pam Atkins, Ph.D., Suicide in Soldiers

Fred Bush, LMSW & Kai Chitaphong, LMSW, Reducing Stigma, Increasing Access for Returning Service Members

Paul Greene Ph.D. & Dianne Kane, D.S.W., Lessons Learned from 9/11 Work With First Responders: How Can We Apply These to Work With Returning Vets?

Laura Payack, M.A., Talk, Listen, Connect:  Helping Families with Deployments, Homecoming, and Changes

The Rev. Frank Wismer & Chaplain Lyn Brown, Ph.D., Life and Death in the Garden of Eden: The Role of Clergy in Helping Veterans, Active Military, and Their Families

» Speaker Bios
» Workshop Descriptions & Learning Objectives available below

4:15-5:30 Networking and Tabling–Held in the Lecture Center Lobby


Conference Coordinators:

Phyllis R. Freeman, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology at SUNY New Paltz. Dr. Freeman is the Chair of the IDMH Advisory Board and a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Community Health in the School of Public Health at New York Medical College.

James Halpern, Ph.D., IDMH Director and Professor of Psychology at SUNY New Paltz.  Dr. Halpern is Chair of Disaster Mental Health Services for the Ulster County Chapter of the American Red Cross and has responded to both local and large-scale national disasters. He is coauthor of the textbook Disaster Mental Health: Theory and Practice.

Meredith Johnson, IDMH Sr. Research Associate, is a graduate student at SUNY New Paltz in the Mental Health Counseling M.S. program.


Presenting Co-Sponsors:

The National Institute of Mental Health
The NYS Office of Mental Health
The Ulster County Mental Health Department
SUNY New Paltz Campus Auxiliary Services
SUNY New Paltz College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Corporate & Community Sponsors:

BenMarl Winery
Dedrick's Pharmacy
Four Winds Hospitals
Green Cottage
Handmade & More
In Good Taste Wine & Spirit Shop
Karma Road
Maglyn's Dream @ Water Street Market
Main Course Catering & Restaurant
Matthew Purcell, Acupuncturist
Minnewaska Lodge
Mohonk Mountain House
The Mudd Puddle @ Water Street Market
My Town USA
PDQ Printers & Graphics
Pegasus Shoe Store
Rock & Snow
Rosner Soap
Wal-Mart Foundation
WDST Radio Woodstock 100.1
Winter Moon Studios
Bruce Schneider, Chiropractor



» Related Web sites and Information






Treating Returning War Veterans

Rachel Yehuda, Ph.D.

 Given the extraordinary efficacy of cognitive behavioral treatments, primarily in sexually abused women with PTSD, it is tempting to try to apply these techniques to the treatment of war veterans with PTSD. But it is not clear that war veterans with PTSD respond as well to these approaches as do women with sexual assault. This presentation will present recent data of our experience with specialized PTSD treatment in combat veterans. These studies also incorporate biological markers for PTSD so as to establish predictors of treatment outcomes, or biological changes associated with recovery. This workshop will provide a discussion of the relevant issues in translating therapeutic techniques from civilians to combat veterans.

Learning Objectives:

  • Become familiar with biological markers of risk, symptom severity, exposure.
  • Learn the literature regarding efficacy of specialized treatments in combat veterans with PTSD



Difficulties in Family Reintegration Following Military Deployment

David Riggs, Ph.D.

This workshop examines the needs of military personnel and their families during and after military deployments. Dr. Riggs will present findings regarding the impact of deployment and combat exposure on service members, the stress of deployment on families and the complex individual and family problems associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The presentation will examine the increased occupational and family pressures associated with pre-deployment preparations, the stress and trauma of actual deployment and combat experiences and the strains involved in returning from deployment and preparing for additional deployments. We will discuss the experiences of families when service members are deployed as well as the effects on families of the emotional reactions of service members including combat stress reactions and PTSD.

Learning objectives

  • Identify potential family stressors associated with different points of the military deployment cycle.
  • Discuss the impact of PTSD symptoms on relationship and family functioning.
  • Identify the ways in which PTSD symptoms may impact on the family members of people with the disorder 

An Overview of Cognitive Processing Therapy for Treating PTSD

Patricia Resick, Ph.D.

The purpose of this workshop will be to train participants in the implementation of cognitive processing therapy (CPT), an evidence-based treatment for PTSD. CPT is a 12-session protocol that has been demonstrated to be effective for the treatment of PTSD and depression resulting from a range of traumatic events occurring in the community and military. It can be implemented as an individual or group treatment. CPT consists of trauma-focused cognitive therapy and writing exposure arranged as a systematic and progressive series of skills and assignments. After an introduction to the theoretical underpinnings of the therapy, participants will learn how to treat clients with CPT session by session. In addition to didactic information, CPT will be demonstrated with taped examples. Common problems encountered with clients will be discussed. This workshop will include lecture, powerpoint, DVD therapy examples, written exercises, role-play, and discussion.

Learning Objectives:

  • Conceptualize PTSD from an information processing perspective and be able to describe and explain PTSD symptoms to patients to elicit their cooperation with treatment.
  • Describe the CPT protocol components:
  • Areas of disruptive thinking most likely to result from trauma
  • Cognitive interventions that assist the client to challenge distorted thinking and replace these unhelpful thinking patterns with alternative thoughts
  • To implement a writing trauma account
  • Develop the skills to implement the CPT protocol
  • Consider issues in implementing group versus individual CPT; specific populations; other implementation issues



Healing the War-wounded Soul

Edward Tick, Ph.D. & Larry Winters, LMHC


This workshop helps professionals explore the inner world of combat and the universal dimensions of veterans’ wounding as revealed through the work of Dr. Ed Tick and life experience of Larry Winters. Renowned for his writings on PTSD, Tick has worked with vets for 27 years and has conducted a worldwide study of how cultures respond to war and warriors. His approach to healing is unique and transformational. Larry Winters is a Psychotherapist and Vietnam veteran who has dedicated much of his energy to personal healing. Together they present a powerful perspective of PTSD as an identity disorder and soul wound. Participants will learn about the psycho-spiritual interventions that rebuild veteran identity, shrink trauma, and restore wounded dimensions of the soul.

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify the symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Describe the differences in interpretations of PTSD from psychological, holistic, cross-cultural, and historical perspectives
  • Describe a four-step model for counseling war survivors and the components of each step
  • Describe strategies for applying that model in their communities



Suicide in Soldiers

Pam Atkins, Ph.D.

Studies suggest the highest number of suicides by active-duty soldiers since 1991. This workshop will discuss recognition of suicidal behaviors and intervention so as to decrease the risk of suicide among our military. Dr. Atkins' workshop will be based on her 30 some years of experience working with suicidal presentations among college students.

Learning Objectives:

  • Increase awareness of possible warning signs of suicidal behaviors.
  • Increase awareness of intervention strategies and mental health access among soldiers.
  • Learn ways for family members to respond to soldiers who may be suicidal.



Reducing Stigma, Increasing Access for Returning Service Members

Fred Bush, LMSW & Kai Chitaphong, LMSW

The presentation will focus on the impact of deployment on service members, families and the community throughout the deployment cycle (Pre-Peri-Post). Participates will gain general knowledge about military mental health levels of care and the role of military mental health providers in Iraq, the psychological impact of war, and specific issues service members and families confront throughout the deployment cycle 

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify military mental health structure in Iraq and levels of intervention
  • Understand the transition from combat theatre to VA
  • Understand Veteran’s Affairs access and services for returning heroes of OIF/OEF
  • Identify Veteran’s Affairs outreach services to returning heroes of OIF/OEF and their families

Lessons Learned from 9/11 Work With First Responders: How Can We Apply These to Work With Returning Vets?

Paul Greene Ph.D. & Dianne Kane, D.S.W.

This workshop will begin by exploring the similarities between first responder and military cultures. By understanding their capacity to function under extraordinary conditions and their resilience we will then explore the barriers to care that often go along with this personal and professional definition of self. Finally we will look at engagement strategies that were successful post 9/11 and how they can be transferred to the military population including: utilization of peers and group structure; concept of training not treating; value of including significant others in the recovery process.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the necessary steps in program development by following the Decision Tree that was successful for the FDNY.
  • Learn which factors increase utilization rates of mental health services
  • Learn how to understand the culture of a community or target population with a systematic approach and checklist for shaping services
  • Learn about specific, innovative strategies of the FDNY that can be generalized to veterans



Talk, Listen, Connect: Helping Families with Deployments, Homecoming, and Changes

Laura Payack, M.A.

When a military parent is deployed, the whole family is deployed. Currently, more than 700,000 American children under age five have a parent deployed in military service, the most since World War II. As a result, there is a vast and growing population of service members with young children facing unique challenges including stress and anxiety surrounding deployment, multiple deployments, homecoming, and the added emotional stress related to a parent returning home changed due to a combat-related stress or injury. These children are our forgotten heroes of military engagement. They need to be reminded that they are safe, they are not alone, and most of all, that they are loved. Who better to relay that message than the trusted, loveable Muppets of Sesame Street including Elmo and his friends!

This workshop will review two projects that the New York State Office of Mental Health provides in partnership with Sesame Workshop. The first project is Talk, Listen, Connect: Helping Families During Military Deployment (TLC). TLC was launched in 2006 and has a current distribution of over 300,000 kits to military families across the United States. The newest project, Talk, Listen, Connect: Helping Families with Deployments, Homecoming, and Changes (TLC 2) expands the original TLC project to encompass families who are experiencing multiple deployments and those families where a parent returns home from deployment changed due to a combat-related injury.

Learning objectives:

  • Participants will have a greater awareness and understanding of the toll that military deployment exacts on children and families
  • Participants will be able to identify the stages of deployment and how each impacts the child and family
  • Participants will be able to identify coping strategies that military families have found helpful to employ during deployment and homecoming
  • Participants will receive access to free educational materials for military families in their communities



Life and Death in the Garden of Eden: The Role of Clergy in Helping Veterans, Active Military, and their Families

Reverend Frank Wismer & Chaplain Lyn Brown, Ph.D.

This workshop will explore the challenges of military deployment to a combat zone. Participants will receive firsthand accounts of a soldier's life during war and the impact of living in an environment of continual uncertainty. Participants will be presented actual scenarios of returning veterans and then asked to respond to the issues raised. Participants will explore possible courses of action to assist veterans and their families in resolving the issues presented.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Understand the unique cultural and environmental factors that contribute to difficulties in adjusting to civilian life after a deployment to a war zone.
  • Employ a variety of counseling tools to address issues that are prevalent among military personnel.
  • Skillfully and systematically articulate and reflect upon their roles in assisting others to help veterans, active military, and their families.
  • Understand the ethical challenges that face military personnel before and after serving in a combat environment.





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